Author Archives: Rich

About Rich

Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

Increasing your motivation to rehearse a presentation…

Rehearsing in mirrorThe scariest rehearsal is always the first one.

There are many reasons for this, but primarily, it comes down to one thing.

Because we know the first rehearsal will be the worst rehearsal.

The very essence of practice is that the more we do it, the stronger our performance becomes.

And so, we avoid that first rehearsal because we know the initial output will be poor. We avoid it because we know that beginning means a commitment. A commitment to improving, a commitment to further rehearsal and a commitment to the hard work that this will entail.

But here’s the flip side.

Everything that happens after you open your mouth and speak the first word of your first rehearsal will be an improvement on what would have been.

The first rehearsal is in fact constant progress.

The first rehearsal is also therapeutic. Like going to the gym, we dread it, but ultimately we feel a lot better afterwards. After the first rehearsal our mind is in fact much clearer. Whatever the outcome, we now know what needs to be done to improve our performance (more practice, a rewrite, more feedback) and we can make it happen. Our mind is ultimately much clearer, focused and driven. Marvellous.

And finally, the earlier you start your first rehearsal, the more time for constant progress you have, and the better your performance will be. If you begin early, this makes the potential success of your next presentation, huge.

Proud to be speaking at Wired Wessex Entrepreneurs Forum – March 27th

I’m delighted to have been asked to be part of a panel of entrepreneurs at a forthcoming Wired Wessex event on the 27th March 2014.

The Q&A session will see me and other local entrepreneurs sharing our experiences of forming and growing a successful business.

Rich Public Speaking is by no means the finished article yet in terms of my ‘business dream’ but I hope that by sharing the lessons I have learned up to this point, I will be able to make the business journeys of others that little bit easier!

I will be joined on stage at the event by the two lovely people below:

Lorraine Ashover
Managing Director, Minerva Procurement Consultancy Services

Fulfilling a long-standing ambition to be her own boss Lorraine set up Minerva in 2010 in direct response to feedback from the school bursar community and helps schools reduce cost, streamline procurement practices and save time. The company looks after many independent and academy schools and manages significant spend on behalf of clients. Prior to setting up Minerva, Lorraine worked for Barclays Commercial for 20 years, the last seven of which were as an Industry Specialist in the education sector.

Mark Dalton
Managing Director, The Tech Lounge

The Tech Lounge is a growing IT services company based in Basingstoke, established in April 2011. Specialising in bespoke support and maintenance, together with onsite IT consultancy services, they offer services and advice all designed around clients’ individual needs.

Want to come along?


I’d love to see you there. The evening kicks off at 6pm, the price is £5 on the door, including drinks and networking opportunities.


Winchester Business School, Romsey Road, Winchester
SO22 5HT

The Vote of Thanks Template

Thank You!I get a lot of inquiries asking for help with giving short vote of thanks speeches. A vote of thanks is often tough to do well because you are generally:

a. following an established ‘headline’ speaker for the event who has been hired to wow the crowd

b. the last piece on the event agenda – the audience are itching to get away

c. the last thing that the audience will remember from the event – it’s your job to make a good final impression!

So, for your delight, here’s my tried and trusted template for giving an engaging, concise and relevant vote of thanks.

Intro – introduce yourself to the audience.

Thanks for attending – thank the audience for coming along (they love being mentioned first!)

Emotion / joke – make a humorous comment on the day or give a positive personal opinion about the event. This helps to build rapport quickly.

Specific thanks – thank the speaker, highlighting three points from their speech that you felt were the most enjoyable and relevant. Explain why you felt they were so good.

Wish safe journey – wish the audience a safe journey home (they love being mentioned again!)

Soundbite / action – finish with a final point that is memorable and relevant – something that the audience will remember.

So that you can see the above template in action, here’s a short (humorous and fictional!) vote of thanks written using this very template:

[INTRO] Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Rich Watts and it is my job this evening to give the vote of thanks.

[THANKS] I’d like to start by thanking you all for attending and supporting the wonderful cause that is this fundraiser for the Monkey Tears charity.

[EMOTION / HUMOUR] The highlight for me has been Mrs Jones’ cake stall and if you haven’t already, I’d urge you to try the blueberry muffins before you leave, but not the chocolate ones, because I’m hoping to take as many as possible home with me tonight!

[ SPECIFIC THANKS] I’m sure you will all join me in thanking once again our speaker tonight, Mr David Ferneybottom.


David, I particularly enjoyed your speech. I couldn’t agree more with your points about how we should all adopt a monkey next year to help develop economic prosperity. Such a scheme truly is required if we are to get out of this recession.

I delighted in hearing about your experiences of monkeys from your school days, and it reminded me vividly of my own wonderful days of education and those long, hot summer holidays.

Finally, I’m still laughing at your joke about the banana and the monkey. I think we all are, and I shall be sharing it with my wife when I return home tonight.

[WISH SAFE JOURNEY] All that remains now is for me to wish you all a safe journey home.

[SOUNDBITE/ACTION] And as My Ferneybottom has taught us – never mess with a monkey with a banana in its hand!

Good night

Are you an aggressive presenter?

The aggressive presenter never actually physically hits his audience, but by the time he’s finished speaking they feel like they have been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

You might have experienced an aggressive speaker yourself. Their natural habitat is the hard sales environment, taking your objections one by one and crushing them in front of the assembled group.

The aggressive presentation style is characterised by

  • Booming statements
  • ‘Trick’ rhetorical questions designed to fool the audience into giving the wrong answer so that the presenter can demonstrate their expertise
  • Statements that use such assertive language that the audience is scared to question their validity
  • Points made and reiterated so many times that the audience can no longer be bothered to question them
  • Laughter and derision from the presenter should the audience ask a question that is ‘silly’ or ‘obvious’

This is not to say that there is no place for the aggressive speaker in this world. If the aggressive speaker failed to make sales, or convert at least a very few, then they surely would have died a death by now.

Mike TysonThe aggressive speaker will always point you to the few who buy as signs of their effectiveness, but how many leave the room disheartened, downtrodden and destroyed as well? These ‘unconverted’ dare not speak up for fear of booming reprisals from the aggressive speaker and so go uncounted in the success statistics of the speaker.

The evolution of the aggressive sales presenter is surely due. A presenter that can switch from aggressive to passive depending on the audience reaction, or even ,to suit individual points within the presentation.

Anyone with confidence can present aggressively. Real speaking skill, and effectiveness, comes from tailoring your delivery to suit your audience.

Adding impact – Is your speech Infotainment?

Infotainment image

Infotainment – the combination of hard information or facts with entertainment content to increase popularity with customers.

If we are ever to be effective presenters, then our presentations need to become infotainment.

If we stand at the front of the meeting and read aloud the ten new staff policy rules for our business, then that is simply information.

For the majority, such information is boring, unengaging and quickly forgotten.

If we stand at the front of the meeting and dance to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, that’s entertainment.

Entertainment is memorable (!), engaging and much more interesting than just information.

The challenge for us as speakers is to turn our presentations into infotainment. The core message (information) that we need to get across, presented in a way that engages and interests our audience (entertainment).

Infotainment has come about because our world is becoming faster and more all-consuming. We have more messages to absorb, more choice and less time.

To be remembered, media now informs and entertains.

The rules are no different for our speeches – infotainment speaking is the solution!

If your information needs to stand out – it needs to be entertaining.


Open presentation training events in 2014

In the next thirty days I am quite literally all over the place!

I will be talking, training, visiting, schmoozing (!) and coffee-ing across the country.

It’s going to be busy, but great fun!

Talking is a large part of the next thirty days, so if you want to pick up some advanced presenting tips and tricks, please feel free to come along to any of the events below. I’ve added in links to the pages to register for each event – it would be great to see you there!


25th February – IOD Hampshire Sales & Marketing Forum – Pitch Perfect Every Time with the UK Business Speaker of the Year

From 7.30am at Natwest House, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire

Read more here
25th February – Inspire Business Forum – The Language of Leadership

From 5.30pm at the Hallmark Hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset

Read more here

 4th March – Lake Yard Business Breakfast – The Art of Making Concise Points Using PIES

From 8.00am at Lake Yard Marina, Poole, Dorset

Read more here

Valentine’s Thought – Have you got a public speaking entourage?

J Lo entourage

This article on the power of your other half to help you with your public speaking seemed especially relevant with Valentine’s Day coming up on Friday…

J-Lo and Britney have their entourages – groups of people employed to cater for their every wish and desire, to ensure that they are in the perfect condition to give their very best performance.

As speakers, we generally don’t have a constant support group of 20+ people to help us be the best. Instead, we have a public speaking entourage of just one – our other half.

This other half doesn’t have to be a lover or a family member, they can simply be a close friend or our flatmate. All of the above form our public speaking entourage because they are there at our lowest and our highest moments.

The entourage is there when we’re banging the table with frustration at writer’s block.

They are there when we are pacing and rehearsing at midnight the evening before our BIG presentation.

They are even there to hear us when we are reciting our speech aloud in the shower, although they never talk of it, thankfully.

And the entourage is there when we arrive home after our BIG presentation, hyper, excited and contented.

They too are glad that it has gone well and greet us with the same enthusiasm, open ears and arms as if we had just flown to the moon and back.


We rarely thank our public speaking entourage. We rarely recognise their contribution of sound advice, opinion and all of those warm cups of coffee.

We never (in my experience) thank them at the end of our speech, preferring instead to lavish our gratefulness on our audience, our host and even our pet hamster before we mention our entourage back at home.

Without that entourage we may have given up when it got hard. We might never have known about that nervous tic that they pointed out to us during rehearsal and we may never have got any sleep the night before the big day.

If you’ve never turned to thank that one person that supports you through your speechmaking, do it today.

Because behind every polished speech is a little-recognised public speaking entourage!

What is PechaKucha? – It’s all that needs to be said

20x20If you like your public speaking punchy, with a generous helping of visual aids, then it’s time we had a PechaKucha about PechaKucha.

(That last line is funny and original because PechaKucha actually means ‘Chit Chat’ in Japanese)

PechaKucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, meaning that every presentation lasts for no more than 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

In a world where our time is precious, PechaKucha is the antidote to pointless prolonged presentations. It’s rapid style means that the majority of PechaKucha presentations are high in energy and inspiration – the pace helps to create inspiration in the audience.

Having started in Tokyo by a team of architects, PechaKucha nights are now taking place all over the globe and generally consist of 8-14 presentations, usually around a creative theme.

I’m a big fan and that’s great, but why are we stopping there?

The golden rule of public speaking is that we should never say more than needs to be said. This aforementioned truth means that PechaKucha is a ready-made solution to inefficiencies in our UK businesses.

Yes, really.

Imagine how efficient your business or organisation could be if presentations were allowed to be no longer than 6 minutes and 40 seconds – how much time would our senior management save over the course of a week, month and year?!

PechaKucha isn’t just idle PechaKucha (see, what I did there, again…) it’s time-saving, energy-generating, boredom busting public speaking straight from the Far East.

Thanks Japan!

Be prepared for everything to fail

Forget Ancient Rome, this is the golden age of public speaking. Even Google tells us so (see the video below)

We are truly blessed. We have Powerpoint, we have the Internet, we have the microphones and therefore we have the power to influence our audiences more than ever before.

But with great power comes great responsibility the opportunity for everything to fail.

I’d even go as far as to say (anecdotally) that at least 1 in 5 presentations experiences some kind of technical hiccup.

If we as speakers are to ensure that our message is not terminated by technology, then we need to be prepared for everything to fail.

Our preparation and rehearsal should always account for the ‘what ifs?’ and ensure we have solutions to even the greatest public speaking catastrophes.

(If you have a view on what the greatest public speaking catastrophe is, please send it in!)

Because if you can keep your head when all of the technology around you is breaking down, then you’ll be a man my son the memorable speaker, my son.

Here’s my checklist of catastrophes to account for when planning a speech – I’d love to hear your suggestions too:

  • Backup power supply for laptop
  • Spare bulb for projector
  • Handheld clicker to avoid any embarrassing ‘oops wrong slide’ gaffs
  • Printout of slides in case I have to deliver the talk without any slideshow behind me
  • A well written talk that makes sense without slides
  • Batteries (for microphones and clickers!)

Update (05/02/14)

Some more suggestions from social media guru @alukeonlife on Twitter:

  • Soluble aspirin and throat lozenges
  • HDMI, VGA cables and any relevant chargers
  • A safe version of slides: no transitions, fonts, clever stuff just images for each slide

Opening lines..It’s not what you say…

Your first impression is more than just your speech

This blog is not about what we say in the opening line of our speech or presentation.

It’s about how we say it.

Thousands of blog posts have been written on the strength of a well-written opening line. But even the best works of Shakespeare will fall flat to our audience if we don’t deliver them properly.

And so, let this post be our warning, that simply writing that killer line is not enough.

We need it perfectly executed too.

Arms closed, no intonation, no smile, no warmth means we will lose our audience before we’ve even begun. The next time they’ll feel positively towards us will likely be when we let them go at the conclusion of our speech.

So, next time we write the perfect opening line, let us not write the second until we’ve made notes on exactly how that line should be delivered, lest we lose our audience at ‘Hello’!

Smile lines – smiling when speaking

Smile imageSometimes we need to smile when speaking, and we don’t want to.
Bad mood, nerves, our natural demeanour. They may all contribute to a unsmiley speech.
Need a solution?
Print your script, and mark out key phrases (generally evenly phased throughout the speech) that you will know as your ‘smile lines’.
Spend a good thirty mins (and a few extra mins over the coming days) practicing the speech and delivering those specific lines with a big smile and open body language. (Practice with the script to begin with so that you don’t forget them!)
You will find that at these key points, with your rehearsed smile, you add extra intonation, warmth and life to your speech.
If you dot ‘smile lines’ throughout your speech as milestones, it doesn’t matter if adrenaline overcomes you and that smile/energy begins to fade, because it will be replenished/returned/recharged when you hit your next smile point!
Rehearsal is the key here, as when the adrenaline is pumping you need your body to associate those phrases you have designated ‘smile lines’ with a change in your expression!

Using images in presentations

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it needs to pass only three simple tests to ensure it adds value to our presentation.

At some point, we’ve all been a victim of the presenter that crams their Powerpoint full of distracting animations, grainy, irrelevant clip art and an awkward holiday snap.

When using images in presentations, we do not have to suffer the same fate.

Here’s three little tests to help you answer the big question: ‘should I use images in my presentation?’…

  1. Does it support the point that we are making?
  2. Does it demonstrate more to our audience than we could tell them in 30 seconds?
  3. Is it of high enough quality that it is visible clearly to everyone in the room?

A picture is worth a thousand words – but we must always make sure that they are the right words!

Moral stories and modern public speaking

If we are looking for moral lessons to include in our speech, there are plenty out there for us to use.

“Slow and steady wins the race”

“Better to be safe than sorry”

“Don’t judge people by the way they look”

For children, we use fairy tales and fables to teach these moral lessons.

The challenge for us as speakers, teachers and storytellers to adults, is to convey those messages in a way that is engaging, entertaining and relevant for our grown-up audiences.

Unless you work at Disney, fairy tales don’t always go down well at big business presentations.

We must take our age-old moral stories and change the detail to make it relevant to our audience.

  • The tortoise and the hare in the office.
  • The three little pigs in the Internet age. (A good one for selling IT security?)
  • The ugly duckling and advertising.

Presenting a convincing argument is often about making it relevant to our audience.

Morals will always be relevant – it just the stories we use to teach them that must change.

Repetition Repetition in speeches – the so-so speaker

You may know  a ‘so-so’ speaker. I knew one at university. This fellow student was known as ‘so-so’ because whenever he had to give a presentation, it always included the word ‘so’ at least 50 times. Once we realised this, sweepstakes were run on presentation days as to how many times the word ‘so’ would be used!

We all have our favourite words and ways of saying things.

In general conversation this is fine, but when we’re standing up for 20 minutes giving a presentation, repeating the same words or phrases regularly can make us appear unoriginal, disorganised and detract from the impact of our message.

It’s tough to think of original words when we’re on stage with the adrenaline pumping, so the best way to address repetition in our speech is during rehearsal.

As soon as you notice any words or phrases that you use regularly, grab the theasaurus and make a list of synonyms that can be used instead.

Stick this list wherever you spend the most time during the day – as a post-it note attached to your computer screen, your phone wallpaper or even on the ceiling above your bed.

Read the synonyms and then re-read them until they’re inside your mind.

When rehearsing you’ll quickly notice that these words spring to mind, as they’ve already been set there before the adrenaline has kicked in. Sorted!

I’ve used this tip myself, for the word ‘obviously’ which used to pop up every 30 seconds in my speeches, even when things weren’t obvious!